Milwaukee Bucks owner Wes Edens spoke to reporters at the team's media day Monday, offering numerous thoughts on the Bucks' financial picture and their big offseason moves.
A sampling of what Edens had to say.
On Giannis Antetokounmpo's comments about being willing to leave Milwaukee if the commitment to winning wanes
"Giannis and ownership are in the exact same position in that we're all focused on winning. His comments ... had everything to do with trying to be in the best position to compete for championships while he's an active player at the peak of his skills. Of course, we couldn't be more supportive of that. I think we are 100% aligned about this and we've done everything we can to make the team have the best chance to compete and win.
"The coaching change was made because we thought it was the right thing for the organization, the change to trade two very good basketball players for Damian Lillard, that's a big decision. We're trying to do what we think we can to give ourselves the best chance to win championships, and I feel really good about that.
"Giannis is eligible for a maximum contract extension, and he's deserving of it. I think he's the best player in the world. We went through a similar situation a few years ago in his contract and we got to the right place with it. At the end of the day, he's committed to being here and committed to being part of a winning team, and we're committed to Giannis."
On the decision to fire Mike Budenholzer and hire Adrian Griffin as head coach
"I think people tend to underestimate the risk of doing nothing vs. the risk of doing something. We made some changes on the coaching side and made some changes on the personnel side, and I feel like we're in the best position we've ever been coming into the season.
"It's a very hard decision because Bud is a great coach, very credential-ized. We won a championship together, won more games in the last five years than any other team in the league. So, it's not an obvious thing to make a change at that point, but we just felt like the organization needed a new voice. As great as Bud has been for us, we thought it was the right time to do it.
"(Griffin) has coached for some of the best coaching staffs in the league. He's never been a head coach, but he might well have been the most credential-ized guy to not be a head coach. ... His energy and his passion and his commitment to winning were so strong. I thought he would have a great connection with the players. He's a former player himself, played at a high level. He's got a tough mentality that we thought was a good change; at the end I thought it was a pretty easy decision. It seems like a big decision to move on from Bud, and independent of that, we interviewed all these different folks. (Griffin) represents the league, he represents hard work and showing up every day. I'm very happy with the decision."
On Giannis consulting in personnel matters such as the hiring of Adrian Griffin
"It was not Giannis' decision at the end of the day. He's a great player and we obviously value his input greatly. When we got down to finalists, we said we want them to spend time with our players out here. (General manager) Jon (Horst) was a big advocate for that and I think it was the right decision. We don't want to put those guys in position to have to pick their coach or anything else. That's not correct and not the appropriate thing, but they certainly have a big voice about it. The same energy that (Griffin) brought to the interviews that we had with him was the same energy in the conversations with these guys.
On the Bucks in the luxury tax and the new collective bargaining agreement in the NBA
"The overriding principle that you're trying to solve for in a CBA is to create as much competitive balance in the league as possible. What creates the most interest in the league in a season and the playoffs, you want that competitive balance. It's been five different teams that have won the last five championships, which I think might be a record, so that's an extraordinary thing in the league. The focus was really in the future to try and present the best possibility of everyone competing and winning. The relationship with the players is the best, I think, it's ever been, and I've been in the league nine, going on 10 years. There's a lot of feeling of partnership with the players that was really important.
"The rules were put in to try and create as much competitive balance as we can. We're one of the highest-spending teams in the league, so it impacts us, but I'm very supportive of the competition. We want to have a chance to compete and win every year, and that's the goal for the league.
"We are absolutely in the luxury tax. I think we're one of the highest luxury-tax payers in the league. For one of the smallest markets in the league, we are one of the biggest payers of the luxury tax. From an economic standpoint, we can firmly say we are all in. The windows when you have a team the quality we have are relatively short, and we want to do everything we can to not take it for granted."
On acquiring Damian Lillard
"I went to school in Oregon, so I still root for the Trail Blazers and watch their games on TV, because I have a lot of friends in that neighborhood. I've seen a lot of Damian Lillard on TV, seen him live a couple of times. He's obviously an extraordinary basketball player and an extraordinary fit for the team we have. I could not be more excited to see him with the number zero on his jersey here on opening night.
"He's been very, very vocal about being in a chance to compete for a championship; he's been incredibly loyal to the city of Portland. My friends out there all love Damian Lillard. I just couldn't be more excited. Off the court, he's got a fantastic reputation. We're all in on character on this team; we're blessed to have a lot of high-character individuals on our team; that's one of our hallmarks of how this team has been assembled, and Damian fits that to a T.
"We brought in Jrue a few years ago, we won a championship. He's a huge part of that. … He and his wife, Lauren, are incredible supporters of the community, great people. So it's very hard. What we've learned in our time in professional sports is you hire the best possible people, you give them the best resources you can and you hold them accountable for the results. That's the kind of way you do it in any business. Obviously, that's what it all came to, like a lot of things it happened very slowly and then all at once. It kind of came up at the end. I have so much regard for Jrue as a basketball player but even more regard, if it's possible, for him as a human. It's hard to see him move. I'm sure he'll be out there competing hard against us, as will Grayson (Allen), but we did what we thought was the right decision, the GM and the professional coaching staff, and I support it."
On trying to get an all-star game in Milwaukee
Note: Reports indicated last week that the Golden State Warriors would be chosen as the host for the 2025 NBA All-Star Game.
"I feel like the city of Milwaukee, the state of Wisconsin deserves an all-star game. We built this incredible arena … we've added hospitality across the street. We feel like we are absolutely well-positioned to get a game. No assurances it'll happen or exactly when it'll happen, but I think it'd be a great chance to showcase this great city and the people here in Wisconsin, and we're obviously a big fan of that."
On TV broadcasts with Diamond Sports Group (Bally Sports Wisconsin) in bankruptcy and if the Bucks would consider broadcasting their own games
"We're in this very interesting inflection point between linear programming and streaming. (If you) get to run your own broadcasts, if you choose to do it that way, you get to connect more directly with consumers. That's something we're deeply interested in.
"Independent of that, the whole Diamond situation, they're in a restructuring right now. There's a lot of uncertainty about how that's all going to turn out. But sooner rather than later, streaming will play a bigger and bigger role in sports media. We're all trying to figure out how to marry up the linear program that's very, very important, the backbone of economics frankly, of the league, with giving access to consumers. It's a pretty fluid situation and one we're obviously paying a lot of attention to. I think there'll be a lot of information to come in the next months and years.
"The league has been ahead (of regional sports networks struggling). I think Adam (Silver) and the other guys are doing a great job preparing for this. A couple teams are already in that position themselves (offering direct-to-consumer broadcasts). ... But there's no chance, in our view, that Bucks will not be available over the air locally."
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bucks owner Wes Edens on Lillard, Griffin, luxury tax and more